How to carve a Mushroom
Here is a quick step by step on how to carve a mushroom. The saws used are stock Stihl's (MS-200 & MS-180) with no special modifications. Sanding was done to the tops of the mushrooms. Safety gear is recommended, you don't want to that guy at the ER.
Step 1 Shaping the top
I usually don't mark out mushrooms but it gives the shape I was going for before starting. This one is carved out of Hedge a Very hard hardwood, pine is much easier to work with. You want to leave it large and just get the general shape of the top. If the wood is wet it will crack more as it's drying. Most all wood used in chainsaw carving will crack, you can try do place the crack in a spot of your choosing by looking at the grain.
Step 2 Shape the sides
Shape the sides into the form of the mushroom you want. It's important not to take off to much in the beginning, you can't put it back. The shaping of the sides creates the form and theres lots of room for "fixing" things if you don't take off to much to start. Try to work around the shroom and not just one side at a time it will stay in proportion easier and step back to get a better view.
Step 3 Shaping and sanding the top
I don't like sanding, but it really brings the grain out in hardwoods. Pine will get less attention because it doesn't show up as well and might get a colorful paint job anyway. You can shape with a low grit sandpaper on a grinder then finish off with something to clean up the scratches it's hard to know when to stop sanding a piece if you start and it's more fun to run the saws.
Step 4 The stem
If you left enough wood to start with, the stems can create the sense of movement and I try to give them a little bend if theres room. You can groove the sides of the stem and rough it up with some with a careful touching of the chain in the opposite direction to raise the grain. Sanding parts of the stem, if you can get to them is also nice.
Step 5 The Finish
There's lots of choice in the final finish. I like a oil based product if it's going to sit outside, its wears more evenly and it much easier to reapply that a "poly" based coating. They aren't as glossy as polyurethane and do take several applications. Tinted stains work better than paint, they soak in the wood much better. Also if you make white dots with paint they will turn yellowish under certain poly and spar finishes, so put them on last.
Step 6 The picture
If all went well you have a mushroom or something you can call a mushroom with a little help. It's not a race, don't try to go to fast it might take 30 minutes it might take 5 hours. Of course safety it the utmost concern and proper gear should be worn at all times. A saw like a Stihl MS 180 with micro-pico chain is a good saw to start with, not alot of investment around 220.00 dollars and have a safety chain that is less prone to kickbacks.